The Use of Sentinel Node Biopsy in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Skin Sparing Mastectomy and Immediate Autologous Reconstruction

Second Department of Surgery, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Surgical Laparoscopy, Linz, Austria.
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (Impact Factor: 2.99). 11/2005; 116(5):1278-86. DOI: 10.1097/01.prs.0000181515.11529.9a
Source: PubMed


Intraoperative frozen section examination of the sentinel node in breast cancer patients is associated with a high number of incorrect negative results with the sentinel node becoming positive in the permanent examination and necessitating a secondary axillary lymph node dissection. A reoperation of the axilla following skin-sparing mastectomy and immediate autologous tissue reconstruction may compromise the vascular pedicle of the flap and should be avoided.
Eighty breast cancer patients underwent skin-sparing mastectomy with immediate autologous reconstruction and sentinel node biopsy followed by axillary lymph node dissection irrespective of the result of the frozen section of the sentinel node. The goal of the study was to identify a subgroup of patients with incorrect negative sentinel node(s) in the frozen section who may forego a secondary axillary lymph node dissection due to a low risk of positive nonsentinel nodes.
Frozen section examination of the sentinel node was negative in 58 patients and positive in 22 patients. Permanent histologic examination revealed tumor in 13 of 58 (22.4 percent) sentinel node(s) found negative in the frozen section. None of these 13 patients showed positive nodes in the axillary specimen, whereas nine of 22 patients with their metastases in the sentinel node found through intraoperative frozen section examination had additional positive nonsentinel node(s) (p = 0.001).
Patients with incorrect negative sentinel node(s) found in the frozen section examination had a significantly decreased risk for additional positive nonsentinel node(s) compared with patients with sentinel node metastases found in the frozen section. However, to avoid a secondary axillary lymph node dissection, the authors suggest performing sentinel node biopsy before mastectomy under local anesthesia to have the permanent result of the sentinel node available before a planned reconstruction.

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